ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park’s Search and Rescue crew responded to two separate calls Thursday.
According to a press release, the first was called in late afternoon Wednesday from an off-trail scrambling route on the Watchman, a large monolith rising 2,500 feet above the floor of Zion Canyon.
A 20-year-old man from Springdale had injured his ankle. Due to the technical rescue and the lateness in the day, the man and his two climbing partners spent the night on the Watchman. A three-person technical search and rescue team were dispatched early Thursday morning and were able to help the group rappel down by early afternoon. The injured man refused medical treatment, the statement said.
Within a half hour of the technical rescue’s completion, a call came in regarding a 56-year-old female from Kanab who had fallen on the Canyon Overlook Trail and had a serious lower leg injury.
Two medics and a crew of seven responded to assist with the carry-out, including the three crew members from the earlier rescue. The victim was transported by park ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center.
While Zion National Park currently remains open, according to a previous St. George News report, park officials recently announced changes to operations to facilitate social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the current and ongoing pandemic.
All campgrounds, as well as the Angel’s Landing Trail from Scout Lookout to the end of the Trail, are temporarily closed.
The park itself remains open, and visitors will be allowed to drive up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive until the limited parking in the main canyon has filled. Once parking is full, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will be closed and open intermittently as parking spaces become available. The park is busiest between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
A recent Facebook post from the Utah Sheriff Search and Rescue Association urged people to recreate responsibly during this time to slow the potential spread of COVID-19 as well as to avoid taxing search and rescue and other emergency crews.
“During this time, we ask all outdoor users to enjoy the outdoors in a safer and more conservative manner than normal,” the post said. “If you’re an avid peak bagger or canyoneer, we ask that you consider simply going for a hike instead of something more challenging. If you’re new to hiking, please do some research before you go, select a hike that is suitable for beginners, and tell a responsible person your itinerary. While on the trail, please maintain the 6-foot social distancing recommended by the CDC.”
Search and Rescue is considered a critical resource – one that the volunteers stand at the ready to fulfill – but the association said in their post that they need the public’s help so that their resources aren’t overloaded.
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